WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the Tornado Observation Research Notification and Deployment to Operations (TORNADO) Act to improve the forecasting and understanding of tornadoes and other hazardous weather. The legislation would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update its methods for predicting and communicating weather alerts to residents.
“In Arkansas we are unfortunately very familiar with the devastation brought by severe storms. In fact, communities in central and eastern parts of the state are cleaning up and rebuilding as a result of the extensive damage from recent tornadoes that caused the deaths of five Natural State residents,” Boozman said. “This legislation will modernize how NOAA communicates with the public during natural disasters to help keep Arkansans and all Americans safe and informed.”
“Even when tornadoes are well-forecasted, warnings do not always provide enough lead time to ensure the public can respond or seek appropriate shelter. The federal government has a vested interest in making sure Americans have as much notice as possible of severe weather,” Wicker said. “The TORNADO Act would improve the forecasting and understanding of these natural disasters so we can prevent future loss of life and property.”
On March 31, devastating tornadoes and severe storms left a path of death and destruction in parts of Arkansas, claiming five lives and causing millions of dollars in damage in the communities of Little Rock, Wynne, Jacksonville, North Little Rock and Sherwood.
The TORNADO Act would require NOAA to implement new technology and procedures that could help increase the lead times provided to the public in advance of extreme weather events.
Among other provisions, the bill:
- Requires NOAA to prepare and submit an action plan for the national implementation of high-resolution probabilistic guidance for tornado forecasting and prediction;
- Encourages NOAA to evaluate the current tornado rating system and make updates;
- Directs NOAA to coordinate with appropriate entities when conducting post-storm assessments to optimize data collection, sharing and integration.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Todd Young (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Gary Peters (D-MI) joined Boozman and Wicker as cosponsors of the legislation.The full text of the bill can be found here.